Researchers discover that venom from the one of the world’s most poisonous snakes could offer pain relief comparable to morphine.
The black mamba, considered one of the deadliest snakes on Earth, has a bite that is capable of killing a man within 20 minutes.
Despite the black mamba’s fearsome reputation, scientist Anne Baron and her colleagues at France’s Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology found a way to strip out the poisonous attributes of the venom and test it for pain treatment on mice.
They tested over 50 types of venom from various species of animals and found this remarkable discovery in the black mamba snake. They have dubbed these pain-killing proteins mambalgins, and so far, they have not disappointed. “Mambalgins” effectively eased both acute and inflammatory pain in the mice used in the experiment and theoretically have the same pain-fighting power as morphine, with much fewer addictive and depressive side-effects.
Black mamba venom is not the first powerful venom to become an effective pain treatment. Toxins extracted from spiders, scorpions, and sea anemones, among others, have also shown promising results. However, many of the pain fighting properties in the venom of animals tend to be accompanied by an array of side-effects, such as paralysis or cell degeneration. The black mamba’s venom stands out uniquely for its low rate of side-effects, and there is still much to be done to figure out why. At the moment, scientists are excited about the new discovery, and they will look to figure out the logistics in the years of research ahead.
While the discovery is astounding, there is much more work to be done to prove effectiveness and to make sure it’s safe for humans. Fortunately, this discovery already has a patent, and a partner company is sponsoring further research. Assuming all goes well with the tests and approvals, there is a possibility of non-addictive pills or treatments from “mambalgins” entering the market within a few short years, which may be something to look forward to for those suffering chronic pain.
What is the Black Mamba?
The black mamba snake (Dendroaspis polylepis) is found primarily in southeastern Africa. The “black” in the name refers to the color of the insides of their mouths; the snakes’ scales are typically dark grey or yellow-green. They are highly aggressive and are the fastest snakes in the world, capable of moving up to 12mph. They grow to 9 feet in length on average but can be as long as 14-15 feet. Without antivenom, a human adult will only survive from 15 minutes to 3 hours after being bitten by one.
SAFETY WARNING: To be clear, this is a scientific medical discovery, with years of research to come. It is not recommended that anyone try to find their own pain cure from potentially dangerous creatures, plants, or substances. For personal pain relief, consult a doctor.